The fifth annual 5 & Diner Rockabilly Bash featured hundreds of classic cars lined across grass fields and paved areas at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. But among the classic cars, girls were dressed as pin ups and men had slicked-back hair and white t-shirts. Completing this very ’50s experience was a stage with rockabilly bands playing live music.
According to Rachel Krupa of the sponsoring restaurant group, she and her husband decided to do a “bash” after hosting a series of successful sock hops and car shows at two of their Phoenix stores. The events included rockabilly bands that were, as Krupa put it,“true artists,” meaning they weren’t cover bands but played their own original music.
“We just thought it would be a great idea to have a show based off our sock hops but on a much bigger scale,” she said.
This bigger scale grew to include drag racing, and at first was limited to classic cars. The Firebird raceway drag strip (now Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park) was the site of the big bash, which before very long included a Pin-up Pageant.
“Pin up of a part of the rockabilly culture and we have so many clients and customers who live that style, dress like that all the time and would come into the diner, attend our car shows, that it just made sense to add it.”
This year, the event moved to the state fairgrounds.
“I think that the venue was just perfect for our event,” Krupa said, explaining that they sought a more vintage-designed location, and the fairgrounds proved to be central to the local rockabilly culture.
Nearby Grand Avenue is the home of shops and hot rod garages that embody the culture, she said, and thus provided backdrops for the event’s inaugural poker run.
Other attractions included a burn-out competition, drag racing, mini bikes on a dirt track, valve-cover racing, stock car racing, and bits of old movies shown along with some old hot rods songs in an air-conditioned building on the grounds.
In addition to those activates, Krupa thinks one of the most popular parts of the show was the bands, many of them coming from out of state.
More than 800 cars and 100 motorcycles took part in the show. The date for 2017 is February 25.
Photography by Nicole James